Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds Walker’s Act 10

The long legal battle over Scott Walker’s controversial Act 10, the budget repair bill in Wisconsin, appears to be over. In a major legal victory for Walker in an election year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court  has just ruled that the bill was constitutional in a 5-2 decision. The far ranging 2011 bill was known chiefly because it limited collective bargaining rights for many public employees and required unions to re-certify every year. The bill also prohibited governments from collecting dues through automatic payroll deductions from unions.

One result has been that membership in a number of government unions in the state has slumped dramatically, and some unions have chosen not to recertify in the face of the new law.

Municipalities and school districts around the state have used the new law to cut costs by imposing savings that unions had previously rejected. Writing today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says that Republicans have claimed local governments have saved about $3 billion since passage of Act 10. While, according to the paper, “It can be difficult to verify all of the savings that Republicans attribute to Act 10 because of gaps in the data among schools and local governments affected by the law…in general the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been able to confirm a large majority of the savings touted by Walker.”

In its ruling the court said that collective bargaining is not a constitutional right for public employees in the state. Rather it is a benefit legislated by the state, and therefore can be revoked by the legislature.

In addition to the changes to collective bargaining, Act 10 also required workers to contribute more to their pensions and health insurance coverages.

Polls show Walker in a tight race for reelection against Democrat Mary Burke .

 

 

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